A few of the most commonly used/needed Windows/Linux programs

I tend to use both systems and the list keeps on growing so I just want to make a brief list to keep track of what I use on each one and also to help those that are not familiar with most of this computer stuff. Of course windows is more common, but when Linux works, it also works just fine. Keep in mind that there are many programs out there for both systems, these may be just the most common and readily available that I know to work. As time changes so do all of the many programs, so bear that in mind and use what you like. These are in no particular order other than what you would use on a daily basis so this should help you get started and working. I am only covering the windows and linux systems since these are the two I normally use and are most commonly found.

The mac is a system based on bsd which is also derived from unix like the linux distributions if I remember correctly. Many people still don't realize this, or at least with the newer hardware that's what it is. I have used them, but a lot of these computers, aka tools pretty much do similar things. That is, they are meant to help you get work done and a lot of the computers are just a matter of choice. As a tech person I read about all of them but use whatever I have access to and just works. I used to use windows a lot, then their systems were acting up for a long time and I switched to Linux, now it's the other way around, so I have gone back and forth depending on what works. I have and still do a lot of testing on my own. A lot of times it also comes to preference. Some people just prefer one thing over the other. In college I also use the Mac's when everything else was being used. So this depends on the environment and what you like to use.

I will of course add more links as they come up or I remember or need them. I am keeping both listings on the same page to make it easier to find what you need. I like things simple.

Also, keep in mind that anything can be hacked/compromised regardless of what type of system it is. The best we can do is try to prevent things from happening to begin with, but sometimes, even that doesn't work. So as long as you remember that if it's man made, it can be hacked,  you just have to take precautions to keep things safe just like with anything else. If you're one to think that what I said is impossible with the proper training and resources, remember this. Machines also break down over time and nature can also have an impact on them even if hackers can't get to them. Earthquakes, fires, rain, hardware dying, the list goes on.

Operating systems (Things have changed so much that I thought I add these links here) Your computer needs an operating system to be of any use.

Linux (For linux, you have a choice of what are called distributions and will find a long list of them here for you to try for free.) As of late, I recommend checking out Ubuntu Mate. I have my reasons and I'm sure everyone else does too, but I just prefer the simplicity of it. Ubuntu was great until they started using Unity. I just don't care for it myself, but this may just be because I started using Ububtu way back when they started.

Office programs (There's no excuse for you not to be able to do work on the computer, even if you don't have a Microsoft suite, you can still use the open source suites which are free to download.)

Linux - These are free to download and use. I don't do much writing to begin with, so these work just fine. Many of them are also available for windows.

Libreoffice (Available for pretty much everything since it's free and open source) - I have now gone back to this one. Seems to work a little better than openoffice now that it has been updated. Unfortunately the extra pages when working with certain formatting can be extremely annoying to say the least. The installation may also fail at first, so you may need to restart. It's a weird thing I have yet to find out why that happens. But once it installs it's fine.

OpenOffice (Available for all systems too) - I am testing this again as I like the more updated toolbars and well it works fine too.

Calligra (Also available for windows here....http://www.kogmbh.com/download.html) I was just reading about this suite today and if you're a writer you may like the book writer option they have.

Windows - This is a program you have to buy.

Wordperfect - This is also a suite you have to buy. This one has been around as long as windows.

WPS Office (Available for pretty much anything you use)

AbiWord (No longer available) - A simple but free word processor that works just like Microsoft Word. It's quick and simple. Just make sure you check the autosave before you start anything as it is not checked. It's under tools, preferences, Documents.

Graphics/Photos/Movies editors
Since the windows movie maker no longer works I had to go find something new that I could use. Here are the two programs that seem to work and have more than you need if you're just doing simple edits like I am.

Shotcut is one I found to be simple one to use and it's open source so you don't get any of the stuff you don't want like ads and what not. I just used this one briefly and so far it worked for what I wanted. Like anything else you need to spend a little time learning the program. I just watched the videos they have on the website and was able to at least do the simple cutting I needed to do. There's a lot more to learn but it's a bit simpler to use than blender and other video editors I think or at least it seems that way. Either way I added both so that you're not stuck using something full of junk you don't need. Why did Microsoft kill the simple video editor is beyond me, but this is open source so you can use it with most systems which is nice. You may as well learn something that works and that you can use in any system.

Check out the shotcut tutorials here before you use it to get an idea of how to use it, these were very helpful and you'll be on your way after just one or two videos:

Openshot - I just found this one today which is also open source.

Blender is the other program that does have video editing. This is more for your 3D guys, but it's full of other features. I have yet to play with it. Again, you may as well learn something that works or get a paid version of something more popular if that's what you like. My needs are very basic when it comes to video editing but if you do make videos you will need something even for your most basic editing. Blender has a lot more than just video editing which is why shotcut should be easier since that's all that one is, but so far both of these look to be good choices. I used shotcut since it was a bit easier to get going.

Here's a tutorial on the video editing which was helpful in seeing how it works here.


Hitfilm Express - This is another 3D film program that also has video editing. I just ran into this program and thought I add it here since it's also free.

Davincir Resolve 12.5 Free

Fusion 8

Windows essentials has the free  basic windows programs you need. Unfortunately this no longer work in windows 10.

DrawPlus Starter Edition


There are many others too.

Scribus - Desktop publishing

Krita - Is a painting program

Antivirus Software
One of the most important programs in windows is a good anti virus. So far there are a couple, but sometimes you have to use a sort of combination of them to get the most basics covered as there is no single program that just works and doesn't take over your system, specially when using the free programs. If you know what you are doing you can set them up accordingly and always check, but most people don't. Keep in mind that using multiple anti virus programs can also cause more problems than good.

January 27, 2016
I just bumped into this today and thought I add it here.

Microsoft Security Essentials - It's free but only works on original Microsoft software (Not pirated) and always seems to eventually turn off or go orange which tells you that you may be potentially  unprotected. All settings have to be manually checked/set and I don't know why this still hasn't been fixed. Again, this only works with authentic Microsoft licensed copies and forget using it on older windows versions, it will not install/support it. For whatever reason it doesn't seem to work too well as the settings are on very low defaults which need to be changed.

AVG - I used this when they first came out years ago, but once they went to the paid versions, things also didn't work quite right. You can still get it, but I think you have to do the manual stuff too. I have decided to uninstall this program now. They are spamming too much with their software pop up sales and it's really annoying.

AVG Update: September 21, 2015

The installer needs to download a 46 mb file.

Here's what the free avg antivirus 2015 looks like once installed. Although it updates itself, it does take a little while to update. The down side of this program now is that it seems to bombard you with pop-up windows on the lower right corner. So it sort of spams you too with their offers which is annoying.

Spybot - This was one of the better softwares out there, but they have changed things so now it won't update automatically. It still works, but you have to manually update it which defeats the purpose having anything. The same goes for scanning.

Clamwin - This one does not have an auto update or auto scanning. It must all be done manually. After a while it's almost useless as you do want an automatic antivirus.

ClamAV - This installed fine but it looks like you have to go digging for the application in order to scan. It installs fine but no easy gui to use that I could find.

McAfee (They have been around for some time)

Norton Antivirus (Has also been around for some time)

Here's a link to many of these. It was easier to just link to it than re-list them all here. The article is from 2014 but this should still apply in 2015 in terms of what is available.

Linux has some in their programs, so you can just add them from within the OS. They didn't work that great when I tried them, so who knows if they are any better now.

Windows (Just to name a few)

Compression Programs (Got a zipped file you need to open?)
Windows - I have been using this one for a long time because it's free. It's a small and good program that just works for all my zipping needs.

Bitser is based on 7-zip with a few other utilities

It has it's own built-in tools or look for it in the programs that you can add within the system. It's all in there.

FTP - Do you need to access an ftp server?
Filezilla is free and open source and has both a client and server if you wish to have your own ftp server.



Warning, when you go to the download page for filezilla, don't use the green button. This takes you to a version with bloatware on it. Use the link circled in red below the button to go to the non crapware downloads. I have now fixed those links so you don't get other stuff you don't want installed. Which reminds me, even with open source software you still need to be careful about what you install as you can see here.

WinSCP - Another sftp, scp and ftp client

PDF Viewers
Sumatra PDF (Just a simple but very functional reader)
Unfortunately the developer uses a yellow background which I found way too bright for my eyes. So go into the settings/advance options, then change that first line code to #ffffff in order to make it a white background. "MainWindowBackground = #ffffff" and now everything looks much better. Update...I think the background has been updated now if not you can still use the above instructions.

Acrobat Reader (Can be a bit bloated but it's great on android devices if you get the app. Check out my android software page for other apps.)

Again has a built in reader but you can add more from the many program available within the OS.

Images to PDF's - Why, so you can make a single pdf from multiple scans or pictures of documents for example. This saves a lot and keeps documents organized. I also use this to make pdf files that I can listen to on my android phone.

Since my windows print to pdf video below worked okay but now windows itself has a problem with the right order of your images, I found a new way to create images into pdf files. Here's the new video which I think works much better anyway.

I have found that I can now make my own pdf files under Windows 10 without installing any other programs. I needed to get some scanned jpg images into a single pdf. You don't need to install any more programs now. Here's my video of how it's done.

Windows (Good program, but just pay attention when installing it as I found some other stuff installing a while back, so just uncheck those if it has any.)
I have found this program is no longer available.

Linux - Again, it has a nice built-in images to pdf software that you just need to install from within the OS. I forgot the name but it shouldn't be too hard to find.

Scanning pages or receipts - I was looking for a way to scan receipts or just any page a little faster than my scanner and started playing with Microsoft Office lens. I have found it to be very easy to use and it's much faster than trying to scan pages from the scanner which I have done. Although you have to steady the phone well and make sure the border covers the whole document that you want to take a picture of. Once you do that, it's just taking a picture of the document which seems to work well. The app can be found in the android store and under the windows apps. You do need to have a microsoft account if you want to access your documents from any other place that is not the phone. I'm not sure if apple has it so you'll have to check on that.

OCR - Converting scans into editable text ( I just had a need for something like this and it's hard to find anything that's not spam and crapware so here's what I have found so far that's close to what I need. These may or may not work for some files.


Google docs also allow you to convert some text from image files as well. Just make sure to check the box when uploading the file.

Commercial OCR
Checksum checker/ Hash Calculator
Windows (Are you downloading ISO images and need to check them to make sure it's not some hacked version, try this.)

Quickhash is an open source hash checker. I decided to look for yet another one since the hashes don't match on the multihasher anymore while I was checking that. So I have added it here, but you can use anything else you prefer. There are many of these out there. I like multihasher but if that doesn't get updated, then it's one of those things.



MultiHasher - I now like this one better than windmd5sum due to the fact that I can see the progress when trying to read a large image from the nas. The windmd5sum just seems to freeze. It works but you can't tell where it is and just seems to freeze while using files off the nas.
NOTE: I have found that the hashes don't match on this program. So I decided to stop using it for now. Be aware of that.

 Easy peasy...

Just use the tools option to compare the digits and you will be good to go if everything matches.

WindMD5Sum - This page doesn't seem to be there anymore.

Check the software repository within the OS.

Iso Program Tools - Some iso files don't have regular names so it's hard to tell what they are. I wanted something to just let me look in them so I could organize them.
You can also view iso files with 7-zip

http://wincdemu.sysprogs.org/tutorials/install/ - I haven't used this one yet but it's open source so I added it here.

http://www.slysoft.com/en/virtual-clonedrive.html - I remember this from way back...Now they are call...https://www.redfox.bz/en/virtual-clonedrive.html


https://www.daemon-tools.cc/eng/products/dtLite - Make sure to uncheck all the crapware from the free version of this program or it will install a bunch of other stuff you don't want. I'm just installing this for the first time to try it out and this is what I found during the install. People spend so much time on adding junk into their programs it's just baffling...and the reason it's now at the bottom of this list.

CD Burning
Windows (There are so many of these, but at least I know you won't get other junk with these from what I can remember.)

http://www.starburnsoftware.com/ - I have been using this one for a long time.

https://cdburnerxp.se/en/home - I just installed this on a fresh machine and noticed they have added some other program/crapware in there that should not be something you install. So make sure to uncheck that before you install it or skip this one and use the starburn. I hate when they start adding crapware, so this is when I stop using these things. Still works but I thought I mention it. I'm having second thoughts about this program. I just re-installed the computer and this was one of the other programs I put in along with the flash player. I just got the mc affee antivirus installed by itself. I don't know where the heck that came from, but just took this and that out. Nothing wrong with McAfee if you get it from them and not from something like this. I only mention it because this was the only one that had this extra junk in it.

I have been looking for an easy way to back up my dvds and I have found that these two programs work just fine.

Make mkv makes a single file and is not supported on hardware like cd/dvd players. Free during beta

Even though it's still the beginning of July, this program stopped working for me. The site said free while in beta. So it's not a free program, but a paid program. So I have uninstalled it and will try to find something else. It was good, I only had a problem with one of my discs that it didn't like. Well I'm done trying to back up my discs as this just takes way to much time do to too. Unless I find something that just works since I don't want to be doing this anyway. I have now added those screenshots of the other programs on the main page. You'll find the links on the right of the page. I definitely like the simplicity of this program. It was an extra step and time to go to mp4, but it worked.

Don't bother downloading it again, it's the same version, but you just need to buy it if you want to use it. The program just closes after you hit ok. I was trying to verify the version, but since I could not I went ahead and downloaded it and it was the same thing.

Handbrake can be used to go from the MKV file to an MP4 file, decreasing the size by quite a bit and these can be played almost anywhere.


Unfortunately vidcoder has the same limitations as handbrake since it uses the same files.

In the end, I just wanted to back up my own dvd movies, but that's just a pain in the butt still. However,  I found that you can also use vlc to also transcode some video files. I found the quality to really suck, but for small videos like mov files that you may want to change to mp4, this may work just as well. It did not work for movies unfortunately. At least not directly from the dvd drive. Of course you can still use handbrake for this too. It's just nice to know that others can also do this.

So I'm done trying to find something for this. It does take quite a bit of time testing and specially when it comes to video, you can spend days just doing this sort of work. There may be other programs out there, but I have yet to use them.

Built in - Okay you have to install it, but it's not that hard if you have used any linux distro.

Diagraming Software/Screen Capture
AvSnap - This is a free audio/video software but can be used for any diagramming. I like it because it's free and can be very powerful once you get to know it. Screen hunter also works well for screen captures. It's on the same download page.
Windows also has a free screen capture tool built right in. It's called Snipping tool. I just find it to be a bit more cumbersome to use since you need more steps to get the right window that you may want. I'm slowly using it more and more so I don't have to install anything else. They all have their pros and cons so use what you like.

-Psr.exe or Problem Steps Recorder or just Steps Recorder allows you to capture screens.
-Snipping Tool allows you to crop what you need.

 I find the above wisdom-soft screen hunter to work much easier and does both of these things at the same time. So it's much easier and faster and less cumbersome to use.

This is not my video but it shows you how these windows built-in tools work.

Linux - There are others in there that you can use, but you can also use the Office suites to make diagrams. I had a need to do something there and the office suite was what helped me there as avsnap is only for windows.

Video Players
Windows - I actually like the new windows media in windows 10. It works great with the nas music streaming and it's easy nice looking. VLC on the other hand seems to crash when I try to get my music from the nas this time around.

MPC is an opensource media player. This player still works but it looks like it has come to an end unfortuantely.

Screen Recorders

Update 3/31/2018
I found an even better screen recorder and capture program. This program is much better and easy to use. What I really like about it is that the files are also small and it just works. The other program if you really want to stream is OBS. These just work well.

Screen Recorders have been a pain really. I'm still looking for a simple screen recorder that just works. I don't need to add my face to my videos but I wanted just a simple recorder with no fuss in order to just get some videos done. I'm usually trying to make technical videos of a problem and having to go through all these hoops with these programs has become a pain in the rear, but I think I finally found one that's more simple to use than the others below. It's called screen recorder. I just finished installing it, reading the help file and now seems to work just fine without any ads or extra junk I don't need in this program. I got some crackling in my sound on my test recordings so I just bumped that to two channel 8 bit and now works fine. I then gave the mic a 10db boost and it sounds fine. It didn't need this boost, but now my voice sounds closer to the mic and I don't have to speak loud to be heard. I also use a lapel mic which works better too. Having a mic closer to your mouth works best but this way I don't have to hold a mic in front of me and I can move around a bit easier. You can play with the other options but you don't really need much. I am using an older computer so your experience may be better if your system is newer.

Here are other alternatives:

Hyper Cam - Installs fine without any other programs ( I tested this and it works fine, I did find that the avi file is just a little bit bigger than the flv file from webinaria. You also have to make sure you select the correct window or you will record just a menu for example. Make sure to do a test or two before committing a large file and find out you didn't get it.) This program also has some built-in ads and I have found that sometimes it's fine, other times, not so much.

Hypercam works great, but it also creates really large files. So I needed a way to convert them in order to get them smaller. Here's what you can use. I did a small settings write up on this here. http://jaimenow.blogspot.com/p/hypercam-settings.html

1. Windows Live Movie Maker works and makes the files smaller.  I found that the windows test file was smaller than the one produced by virtual dub below. I like having choices so I'm adding both of what I tested to help you. It may depend on the settings but I just did the same as the video below. So your mileage may vary, but they both work which is the main point. Updating smaller files is always better though. Windows live did feel a bit slower doing this though. Unfortunately I just found out that Windows 10 no longer has this program. However you can still install it as I also found out.

2. The other program you can use is Virtual Dub found here. You will also need a codec from xvid. Install both and check out the youtube and this will help you get your avi files smaller. I'm adding them here since I'm currently testing this.


Now that you have your large file, how do you compress it? I found this blog explaining the basics for handbrake which worked great. So although it takes a bit of work, now you should have everything to help you with making some videos and posting them online.

Webineria - It's open source and looks fine too. No extra adware/crapware here. Although I got an avi, the file was large, so I then tried to save a flv file which was much smaller, but the program crashed on me when I did. Although it still made the file which I was surprised. Other than that, it looks like it also works without much hassle.

Rylstim Screen Recorder - This one comes with an extra program called money calendar. Just uncheck that and it will be fine without any other stuff. So far that's what I see. NOTE: This one seems to included built-in ads on the bottom but no popups. It also gave me the smallest avi file compared to the two above which I like. So it works, but getting rid of the ads would definitely make it my choice. It's definitely still much better than cam studio since no other junk is installed.

Screenr - This one is browser based. I haven't used it but I thought I add it here as you don't need to install anything. Since I was just testing these again, I noticed that if you don't have java installed, this one will not work. It will ask if you want to install it. With the first three, there is nothing else to install. Either way, it's nice to have more options.

Camstudio is a screen recorder for making tutorials for example.
FYI - This program still works but now in version 2.7.2 they have included a bunch of crapware. So make sure you don't click ok on all screens when installing. Scroll down on those windows to uncheck all that junk. Here's what you'll install if you don't unheck them at the beginning. Well this is what I got when I installed it.
-Reg Clean Pro
-My PcBackup.com
-advanced system protector
-web get
 Here's some of the junk that camstudio installs. This program is really, really bad now so this is why I have also added a few more replacements above.

Open Broadcaster Software - I just found out about this one so I'm adding it here. I haven't used it but it seems to be popular.


Microsoft Expression Encoder 4 with Service Pack 1

Linux - Do I even need to go there...they have their own in there.

MP3 Tag Editors
Mp3Tag -This one seems to work okay. Some people like to put stupid comments or random junk in mp3s. Just use this program to take all that junk out.

Music Brainz Picard Tag editor

They have a few in the software downloads to choose from which I like.



Hardware monitor
My cpu fan has just taken off like an airplane so I thought I get something to keep an eye on temps. I found this program that is small and seems to work well. I'll add any others I may find later.

Open hardware monitor

CPUID hardware monitor


Core Temp - Make sure you don't install all the other software that is automatically check with this program. If you rather not deal with that just use any of the first two. I just added this one as an extra option.

I have decided to split the page here...I'll start adding other programs here that you don't necessarily need when starting but I find the links useful. I keep finding a few more every now and then and I don't want to forget them so I'll keep adding them here.

Electronic Programs - A friend of mine sent this link and I think it has some useful programs if you want to draw your own electronic diagrams.

Free Databases - I was looking for a small/free simple db program to play with at home. I was looking at sqlite, but I couldn't find the basic installation instructions on the site and well, the support is pretty weird. No forum or anything that I could find. I want something small that I can find information on and not have to go digging up pieces everywhere. So I thought I make a list of a few main ones here. Of course these are just a few of what you can find out there.

Microsoft SQL Server Express Edition - You still need an account to download software, but I also found out they have so many different versions I just downloaded the first 64 bit. It's confusing since there is no description of each version just the name.

Microsoft SQL Compact 4.0

Oracle Database 11g Express Edition - You will need to make an account if you don't have one. It's free. This is less confusing than the microsoft sql since there are not many different versions like the Microsoft as I found out. Not to mention they don't keep changing their pages so it's always in the same place.



H2 Database

I was looking for a small lan messenger and found this page.

There are a number of ways to make a bootable usb so here are some links to what I have seen around.
Rufus - This one has worked fine every time I have used it.

Linux live usb


UNetbootin -  I had problems with this one where some of the boot disks would not work at all. I just had too many fail attempts with this one.

Etcher - I just tested this one and it is aprogram used to burn isos to sd card, not make bootable disks. But I will leave it here since it looks like a decent program for that.

Testing USB drives

Microsoft project open source alternatives

Visio alternatives
Draw.io is a free online diagram and drawing application. No login required and you can start using it right away, online.

LibreOffice Draw is definitely your next choice if you want your own program for diagram. Just download libreoffice and it's part of the office suite. There are many great choices now.

Text editors 
Notepad ++ - This is a source code editor and notepad replacement for those that need a bit more from a notepad editor.

RJ-TextEd - A Unicode source and text editor

Visual Studio Code - Another source free source code editor.

Wake on lan 3/24/2017

Here's another link, but since there a quite a few I'll just add the main link here.

Organization for documents
Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh] is a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources.

Camera software
IP Camera Viewer

A full feature surveillance system

Website editor

Do you need to find more compatible software for linux? Just type it in to this site. It's a very useful site so you're not searching all over the web for something you may need.

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